Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

“ learned” as he was in human dealings,” had extracted from that learning a forgiving and indulgent pity for human frailty. Is it not worth a pilgrimage barefooted from the remotest corners of the world, to scatter the fairest flowers which the earth nourishes in her bosom, on the shrine of an honest creature, whose whole life was good humour, good nature, and beneficence in action?

Cobb was an admirable beef-steaker, and played off a delightful pleasantry. The friendly satire and raillery of the Society, he took with incom. parable temper. In the chair he sustained, and returned the fire with the greatest promptitude, and silenced his assailants one by one, as the shepherd in Spenser brushes off the “ cloud of cumbrous gnats” that molested him. Cobb was the author of several dramatic pieces. His farce, called the First Floor, kept possession of the stage for many years.

To some of his comic operas, particularly his Haunted Tower, and Siege of Belgrade, Storace set some of his finest music. His last, called Ramah Drûg,* was not successful. At the Beef-Steaks, an author, a dramatic author especially, is fair game. Once, when the Fescennine licence of the Club was running high against poor Cobb, his dramatic productions did not escape.

* The scene was in Hindostan, and Drûg, or Droog, in the language of the country, means a hill-fort.

Cobb!” said Arnold, " what a misnomer it was to call your opera the Haunted Tower. Why, there was no spirit in it from beginning to end!” Yes,” exclaimed some other desperate punster (I cannot now recall who it was) “ but Cobb gave one of his pieces the most appropriate title possible, by calling it Ramah Drûg; for it was literally ramming a drug down the public throat.” “ True,” rejoined Cobb; " but it was a drug that evinced considerable power, for it operated on the public twenty nights in succession.” “My good friend,” said Arnold, triumphantly, “ that was a proof of its weakness, if it took so long in working.” are right,” retorted Cobb: in that respect, your play" (Arnold had brought out a play, which did not survive the first night) “ had the advantage of mine; that was so powerful a drug, that it was thrown up as soon as it was taken!”

These good-humoured reciprocations never

“ Arnold, you produced the slightest misunderstanding; a rare felicity, seeing the unrestrained spirit of banter that reigns there : but in those who carried on this keen encounter, the elements were most propitiously blended. Arnold was a fellow of infinite jest. Beneath an exterior not polished to the last degree of refinement, there lurked not only the sterling qualities of the heart, but a rough, masculine understanding. He was a manly and ingenuous being; nor, according to my creed, is it any derogation from those qualities, that he worshipped good wine “ without a drop of allaying Tiber in it;" for his honest face turned to the bottle with as true a devotion as the Mussulman's to Mecca. I have spoken of him in the past tense, for I have not seen him for many years. Alas ! that it should be the only tense, in which we can speak of the few pleasures that are indulged to us!

I wish that I could worthily commemorate an illustrious member of the Sublime Society, then most assiduous in his attendance. But let me not injure the likeness, by colours too faint, and a pencil too timid to pourtray him ; else I might

endeavour to sketch the kind, the benevolent, and unaffected virtues of His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex. And why should I echo that " whereof all England rings from side to side ?" No man enters more cordially into the humour of the Club, the equality of its spirit, or its sharp but innocent encounters. Nor do I believe, that what is due to him as a prince and a gentleman, was ever overlooked in that Club, even in the most unrestrained moment of mirth. On his part, so true, so inbred is his own sense of dignity, that never by a look, or a word, or a supercilious retiring within himself, did he check the current of its honest gladness; but, on the contrary, he gave it fresh life and saliency as it ran murmuring by him.

But Charles Morris—can any one think of the Beef-Steaks without including thy reverend image in the picture? The faculties of man are not equal to an abstraction so metaphysical. For many, many years, during which several of man's autumnal generations have fallen, he has been faithful at his post. He is the bard of the Society, who, in the person of this her favourite disciple, may still boast non caret vate sacro, for time has not yet struck this old deer of the forest. You should have seen him, as was his wont at the period I am speaking of, making the Society's punch, his ancient and rightful office. It was pleasing to see him at his laboratory at the sideboard, stocked with the varied products that enter into the composition of that nectareous mixture; then smacking an elementary glass or two, and giving a significant nod, the fiat of its excellence; and what could exceed the extasy with which he filled the glasses that thronged around the bowl; joying over its mantling beauties with an artist's pride, and distributing the fascinating draught

“ That flames and dances in its crystal bound.”

Well has our laureate earned his wreath. At that table his best songs have been sung; for that table his best songs were written. His allegiance to the Beef-Steaks has been an undivided allegiance. Neither hail, nor shower, nor snowstorm have kept him away ;-—no engagement, no

« AnteriorContinuar »